During the COVID pandemic health care workers needed to work tirelessly to correct the false information that politicians easily spread through the country. The President made claims that the virus was not real, that physicians were getting financial kickbacks from using COVID on death certificates, and that health care workers were benefiting from the pandemic. Physicians, nurses, and staff needed to talk to patients about COVID, and it really took a toll on the patient-physician relationship. Unfortunately, a significant amount of damage was incurred to the health care system simply by politicians spreading false information.
If a physician lies to a patient, and something bad happens to them, they can be held accountable for malpractice. In some states, physicians and nurses who were spreading misinformation lost their licenses. The health care community should be held to a higher standard. However, I would argue that politicians and leaders of this country should also be held to that standard.
It should go without saying that leaders, who have a large platform, have a duty of care to the people they serve. Politicians take an oath to serve. Wouldn’t this be consistent with a legal obligation to adhere to a standard of “reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others?” There is a “social contract” between leadership and constituents.
If you look at how the pandemic was handled, there is clear negligence, fraud, and misrepresentation present. There was a clear breach of duty to the country and every citizen in this democracy. The lies breached that duty. As a result of the lies, people became gravely ill, needed to be placed on ventilators, and as a result, have long COVID, and died. Suppose the social media of some citizens is examined. In that case, you can prove these individuals believed everything the politicians were saying and can directly relate not wearing masks and declining vaccinations to the conspiracy theories that were spread by various GOP elected officials. The result of the lie causes economic issues, social concerns, and significant divisiveness in the country.
Even if citizens were not directly impacted by the virus, they were impacted by the cultural changes that came from the pandemic being mishandled. You could argue that every citizen saw the economic impact of this virus. However, women have suffered disproportionate socioeconomic consequences from the pandemic.
Every time I turn on the news, there is more evidence of fraud and misrepresentation by politicians as well. When it comes to reproductive health, many egregious lies have been told about legislation they are attempting to pass. We can prove misrepresentation of facts, the falsity, that many of these individuals have knowledge that this is false and that the intent is to push the political agenda. The people being hurt; women across the country.
There have been women who have lost their uterus, have carried non-viable babies to term, and suffered significant mental health anguish. Some have had to deal with the demoralizing agony of being unable to control their bodies, and some have had ICU stays and died because of the lies Congress has told.
As of late, there is another clear example of political violence that was perpetrated as a direct result of the toxic political rhetoric. Mr. Pelosi, the Speaker of the House’s husband, was a victim of an attempted murder by an assailant who openly repeated politicians’ lies and believed the Speaker of the House had lied about the election being free and fair.
Why has there been no legal accountability for these people? Their negligent actions have contributed to the death of thousands of Americans. They have created hostility between the political parties that I have not seen in my lifetime. They continue to put their citizens at risk. Why can I be sued for malpractice when they have been practicing medicine without a license in the face of COVID and women’s health? Why did I have to go through all the training in OB/GYN when they can create legislation with no basis in evidence?
Kellie Lease Stecher is an obstetrician-gynecologist and co-founder and president, Patient Care Heroes. She can be reached on LinkedIn, Facebook, and on Medium @kellie.stecher.